An autograph from Dolly Parton, means more to Michelle Cody Young, a Vilonia elementary teacher, than to some of her other fans. It is a reminder of her late mother, Annette Cody, who died in 1997.
Mrs. Young said she has been a fan of Dolly since she was a little girl.
“In 1995, momma and I were shopping at the Lighthouse Christian Bookstore in Morrilton. I noticed a children's book that was based on the lyrics of Dolly's song "Coat of Many Colors." I was so excited about this book. The illustrations were just beautiful and helped to bring the words of the song to life. I would be graduating from Arkansas Tech with a teaching degree in the spring of 1996. I told momma that I would love to have that book for my classroom library. Momma bought it for me that day. Momma passed away the first week of school in 1997.”
That was Mrs. Young’s first year to have a classroom to herself.
“I have read this book to my classes ever since,” she said. I always tell my students that the coat of many colors reminds Dolly of her mom, just like reading the book reminds me of my mom.”
A bonus, she allows the students to listen to Dolly sing the song and she shows them a photograph of her mother. This year, Mrs. Young had a surprise. One of her students went home and told her mother all about the book and also what Mrs. Young said about her mother.
“What I didn't know until late October was that this family has a special connection with Dolly,” Mrs. Young said. “A relative told Dolly about my story and she thought it was so sweet, she told that relative that she would love to sign the book for me.”
Mrs. Young sent the book home with the student named Courtlyn during Thanksgiving break to give to her cousin that knows Dolly. Mrs. Young was told the cousin would try to get the book to Dolly to sign during Christmas break.
“Today was my first day back to work after Christmas break,” Mrs. Young said. “Courtlyn rushed into my room with a huge smile on her face. She couldn't wait for me to see the autograph. It was a very exciting morning. I'm so glad Dolly took the time to appreciate the memory of my momma by signing this very special book. God bless her.”